Hills to hills adventure, deep in the Gorge
Thanks to Fayetteville’s newest touring company, you can explore the Gorge from rim to river. Soak up local lore, brews and jaw-dropping scenery while you’re at it, too! Here’s how.
Like any breakthrough, Hills to Hills Tours & Shuttle makes you wonder what we did without it.
The concept is simple. Instead of searching up and down the New River Gorge yourself, a guide takes you instead. Just leave your car at Canyon Rim Gifts in Lansing and hop into a van. Easy. No need to stress about parking, getting lost or missing a local attraction.
Check these out:
1. Ride under the New River Gorge Bridge
Want to get really close to America’s second highest bridge? Unless you’re a local, it’s easy to miss this unusual drive. Good thing there’s Hills to Hills.
Meet your guide at Canyon Rim Gifts in Lansing. Everybody will have time for shopping and snacking. (Tip: homemade fudge is a specialty.) Then climb into the van, settle into a seat and have that camera ready.
First up: Fayette Station Road. Long since replaced by Route 19, the narrow mountain pass is more than a century old. It used to be the only way you could cross the deep New River Gorge. Now, the switchback makes a picturesque road trip.
Hills to Hills guides stop frequently for photo opportunities along the way. Sweeping vistas of hardwood forests, sandstone cliffs and the sparkling New River follow you for miles. If you’re especially lucky, you’ll spot bald eagles and peregrine falcons, too.
Then there’s the 876-foot-high, 3,030-foot-long New River Gorge Bridge. Fayette Station Road goes directly beneath it. Your guide will tell you all about this remarkable structure, including its history and trivia— a real bonus.
The Tunney Hunsaker Bridge is next. At 278 feet long, it’s much shorter than its gigantic neighbor. But guess what? You can wander a sidewalk and peer down at the New River. You’ll get a peek at a couple of whitewater rapids, attracting kayakers and rafters throughout the year.
You’re not quite finished for the day, though; part of the tour includes ghost towns. Some hide beneath jungly growth, while others are beautifully preserved. As you ramble through the mountain, hear about the New River Gorge’s many mining communities and what life was like when coal reigned supreme. By the time you return to the car, you’ll know just as much as the locals.
Tours are Mon-Fri and $15 per person; contact Hills to Hills for available times. Expect to be gone for an hour.
2. Brewery and Dinner Tour
In addition to world-class recreation, southern West Virginia has a pretty active craft brew scene. Don’t miss a single sip on this innovative trip!
Park your car at Elliott’s Whitewater Bar and Grill in Fayetteville. Laidback and casual, this no-frills joint boasts local craft beer and American comfort food. This is where you’ll have dinner. But for now, it’s a gathering point for the tour.
After everybody is gathered in the van, this trip follows the itinerary mentioned above, including a stop at Canyon Rim Gifts. But instead of heading home after the bridge, you’ll visit Bridge Brew Works in Fayetteville. It’s very much a family business. Three brewers manage everything from hops to labelling— an impressive feat considering all the beers they produce.
As you’ll discover, the brewery is small but ambitious. Kolsch and Belgian-style beers dominate the menu, which features pale ales, stout and lager. Many are available on tap. You can also get bottled beers and growler fills. On this Hills to Hills trip, you’re welcome to sample Bridge Brew’s distinctive creations and tour the production area. The owners are enthusiastic about their trade and want you to be, too.
Your tour ends back at Elliott’s. Local favorites include pig “wings,” batter-dipped cod and Double Z— a one-pound burger with custom toppings. You can also order sandwiches and appetizers.
Daily tours at 4 p.m. Tickets are $35.99 each and available via Quality Inn New River Gorge.
Rafting is king in the New River Gorge. Folks travel the globe for a chance to challenge the “Grand Canyon of the East.”
If you’ve brought your own boat, Hills to Hills makes transportation easier than ever. Simply bring your kayak or raft to Fayette Station’s parking lot. A driver will load everything into a trailer and bus you to the Cunard put in. With rides available in the morning and afternoon, it’s a convenience nobody can do without!
Shuttles leave Fayette Station every Saturday and Sunday from April through October. Departure times are 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Weekday trips available by appointment.
Tickets are $15 for rides to Cunard or $50 for a weekend pass. Pumps are provided for inflatable crafts, too.
Find your adventure
The New River Gorge may be wild, but Hills to Hills tours take the stress out of parking and exploring.
What have you always wanted to see or do in the canyon? If you have something specific in mind, just ask them. Customized trips are available.
If you could craft the perfect New River Gorge trip, what would you see or do?